The major part of SEO work involves building backlinks to a website from relevant, authoritative sites to boost search engine rankings. This off-site work contributes something like 80% to the overall ranking of a website. But what about on-site SEO? That 20% could just push you ahead of your competitors so don’t ignore it.
Many SEO consultants, and certainly the majority of web developers and designers, pay very little attention to in-depth on-site SEO. Yet the effect of on-site SEO could be great enough to give a website an edge over the competition. In the fiercely competitive world of search engine ranking positions (SERPS) can you afford to ignore even the smallest areas of potential advantage?
SEO experts will always suggest optimising the main elements of a website such as the title, the headings and the image descriptions to include the target keywords. They are also likely to recommend a technical SEO audit and that the main text content includes the keywords in the correct proportion – that is, enough to attract the attention of the search engines but not so much that the site is in danger of being considered spam. And also that the keywords appear within the first few hundred words of text on the page and within the first sentence.
The main text, or body text, of a webpage is the text that a human user can see. It does not include any of the HTML code used to create the page but it is used by the search engines to determine what the page is all about. Because of that reason, it is critical that the body text does just that. It is often surprising when content is first written for a new webpage what the search engines consider the important theme of a page and what the website owner is trying to convey. A brief look at Google’s free keyword tool and analytics tool can immediately give an indication of whether the content is well optimised for the chosen keywords.
Be aware that “black-hat” techniques for hiding text within the body text so that human users cannot see it, such as very small fonts or a font colour the same as the background colour, are techniques that the major search engines are aware of. They are techniques that could ultimately lead to a website being penalised or blacklisted. An ethical, “white-hat” approach to on-site SEO will achieve better and more long-lasting results for reputable businesses.
But there are also other on-site elements to take into consideration and every one of these should be optimised fully for the greatest advantage over the competition within the search engines. Each part of a web page that contributes either positively or negatively to the on-site SEO has a lesser or greater influence on the SERPS. It is, therefore, important to prioritise the on-site work to reflect how important a particular element is to the search engines and, of course, ultimately to your website’s ranking position and the online success of a business.
A good place to start is by listing all of the parts of a website, in order of importance, which should be reviewed as part of an on-site search engine optimisation campaign.
- Body Text
- H1 Headings
- Page URL
- H2 – H6 Headings
- Image “ALT” text
- Bold text
- Outbound link text
- Outbound URL
- Meta Description
- Meta Keywords
In order to be confident that a website has been optimised as fully as possible, each of these parts of a website should be methodically reviewed with respect to the following three critical factors:
- Keyword Use
- Keyword Density
- Total number of words compared to the main competitors’ websites
It is also necessary to take into account the website age, the server speed and even whether the website’s HTML and CSS code conforms to the W3C standards of the World Wide Web Consortium.
Some SEO experts may argue vigorously that the less important parts of on-site search engine optimisation such as HTML validation are not worth the time and effort to correct, but, all other things being equal, wouldn’t it be worth that time and effort to overtake a competitor in the search engine rankings? Particularly if the competitors are focussing solely on off-site link building. The decision is yours.